Sunday, November 19, 2017

Repairing The US Economy Starts At Home

As  US made products become less and less common on store shelves, those of us who don't want to send our money overseas must get creative.   This is especially true when dealing with a sector of the economy that has been utterly destroyed by foreign competition and no US made option exists.  For example, try buying a new TV that says "Made in the USA."   Even in such cases, there is still something you can do to fight back - repair it.  Choosing to repair instead of replace may not bring US manufacturing back directly, but it starves our competition and allows us to invest the money we saved back into buying products that are still made in the USA.

If you're lucky, there still may be some businesses around you that repair major appliances.  If that is the case, please consider supporting them, since that recirculates money in your local economy rather than sending it to Asia.   The small appliance repair man seems to be a thing of the past however, so if you want to fix something that costs less than $500 or so, you may have to do it yourself.  Surprisingly, it isn't that hard most of the time and there is more information than ever before available to help you.   If you look on YouTube or elsewhere you can typically find info on diagnosing the problem and then see exactly how to fix it, usually specific to your exact model.   One upshot of mass producing a piece of shit is that most will break in a predictable way. 

I'm not talking idly.   Here is a recent example of  an easy repair I made that helped me keep some of my hard earned money out of China:

My house has a Keurig, which was here before I moved in with my girlfriend. It was made in China of course and unsurprisingly stopped functioning correctly after two years.  It would make a loud noise, like the water pump was running but then it would just keep going for minutes and then, when it finally brewed a cup of coffee it would only produce about half of a normal cup, even on the largest setting.   After about five minutes of research I narrowed it down to either a jammed water injector that shoots the water through the k-cup or a clogged water filter.   I tried cleaning out the injector with a paper clip but the problem persisted.   Next, I took off the water reservoir, emptied it and unscrewed the little screen over the water intake using a US made, long, Philip's head screwdriver.   It looked like a little lime scale had built up on the screen so I scrubbed the hell out of it, put it back on and when I fired it back up I got a perfect cup of coffee.   A total investment of about 20 minutes prevented us from having to spend $75 on another Chinese made POS.    Put another way that's like making $75 for 20 minutes of work, or $225 per hour - quite the motivation, like earning CEO wages but for doing actual work!   

Still on the subject of Keurig machines, the k-cups sold in stores are stupid expensive relative to a cup of coffee made with a normal drip style machine, 300-400% more in fact.   To my thrifty girlfriend's credit, she had already purchased a reusable plastic k-cup that worked well...until it broke.   At this point, when it comes time to replace anything I reflexively search for that item online and add a "Made in USA" to the end of the search term.   This time around I got lucky and found one not only from the USA but made.out.of.actual.metal.   It cost more than the cheap, plastic Chinese made ones but it works great and I also know that I will never, ever have to replace it.   For those of you stuck using a Keurig at home or work and want at least one part of it to be made in the USA I'm going to include a link:  Fill N Save Elite Series Stainless Steel Reusable K Cup for Keurig 2.0 and Backward Compatible With Original Keurig 1.0 Models. Silver   Full disclosure, it is an affiliate link so I may get paid if you click through and buy one.  This is my first time doing this, and, going forward I will always let you know if I am using one of these links.   All such links will point to products that have been made in the USA.  Amazon is a huge player in the retail economy and as such, I believe it is important to send signals, through the market and the way we spend our money, that we want goods that are made in America.

I've already got quite a bit of text here, and about 3 directions I could go with this discussion so my plan is to make Repairing Our Economy a recurring segment to cover some of the other projects I've done.   I could also get into the subject of coffee and globalism, so expect a post on that in the future.   I've also got a post about planned obsolescence in the draft phase at this point so some of what I was going to say here I will say there instead.   So in closing, give repair a try.  It's probably easier than you think and all it will cost you is five minutes to find out.   Better yet, if you have already made a repair you're proud of please share it in the comment.   Thanks for reading!

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